Felix “Doc” Blanchard
FB | Junior | Army West Point
Blanchard won Army’s first Heisman after helping lead the Knights to their second-straight national title. He is the first junior to win the Heisman.
Blanchard was born in McColl, South Carolina. His family moved from McColl to Dexter, Iowa in 1929 and then to Bishopville, South Carolina two years later. Blanchard, nicknamed “Doc” due to his father’s occupation, attended high school at Saint Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He led the school’s football team to an undefeated season during his senior year in 1941.
Blanchard was recruited to play college football by Army, Fordham and Notre Dame, among others, but he chose to play for North Carolina, in part because its coach, Jim Tatum, was his mother’s cousin. Because NCAA rules at the time did not allow freshmen to play varsity, Blanchard played with the freshman team.
Blanchard decided to enlist in the United States Army in 1943. He was stationed in New Mexico with a chemical-warfare unit until enrolling at West Point in July 1944.
During his three years of playing football at West Point, Army compiled an undefeated 27–0–1 record and won three national championships.
An all-around athlete, the 6-0, 208-pound Blanchard served as the placekicker and punter in addition to his primary roles as an offensive fullback and alinebacker on defense. He teamed with Glenn Davis to form one of the most lethal rushing combinations in football history. In his three seasons at West Point Blanchard scored 38 touchdowns, gained 1,908 yards and earned the nickname “Mr. Inside.” Teammate Davis earned the nickname “Mr. Outside” and in November 1945, they both shared the cover of Time magazine.
As a sophomore, Blanchard was third in the Heisman voting after rushing for 335 yards and five touchdowns and catching three passes for 96 yards and three more scores. Army went undefeated and won the national title.
He totaled 17 touchdowns as a junior, rushing for 722 yards and 16 TDs with a 7.1 average while catching four passes for 166 yards and one more score. Army again went undefeated and won the national title. Blanchard won the Heisman while Davis finished second, the only time players from the same school have finished 1-2 in the Heisman vote.
In 1946, Blanchard missed the first two games of the season due to an injury to his knee, but he had another fine year with 613 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns. He finished fifth in the Heisman vote as Davis won the Heisman.
In 1947, Blanchard and Davis played themselves in the movie “The Spirit of West Point.”
In addition to football, Blanchard was also a member of the Army track and field team, with a shot put championship and a 10-second 100 yard dash in 1945.
In 1947, Blanchard graduated from West Point and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He coached Army’s freshman team in the 1950s, but he never played professional football, choosing a military career instead (he was selected third overall in the 1946 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers). He served as a fighter pilot and garnered a commendation for bravery in 1959 after preventing his faltering plane from crashing into a village. He later flew 113 missions during the Vietnam War and retired from the Air Force in 1971 as a colonel. After retiring from the Air Force, he spent several more years as the commandant of cadets at the New Mexico Military Institute, a junior college that prepares students to enter the service academies.
Blanchard died of pneumonia on April 19, 2009 in Bulverde, Texas. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1959.